After taking game one on Sunday against Clemson, Auburn's season came to a close in NCAA Regionals as Auburn lost to Clemson 5-1. Bri Ellis' three-run home run in game one powered Auburn to a win which set up another matchup against Clemson where the winner would advance to Super Regionals. However, it seemed that game one and Saturday night's late game finish took a lot of energy out of Auburn as it lost the second game 5-1. Here is a recap of each game.
Auburn did not have the same difficulty it had yesterday against Valerie Cagle who is one of the best pitchers and hitters in the nation. She was the MVP for Clemson yesterday only allowing one hit, while hitting a two-run home run. Auburn got to her early with Ellis sending a ball to deep center for a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
However, the Clemson players were far from calling it quits. At the top of the fourth, Alia Logoleo hit a solo home run to pull the game within two. However, the consistent bat of Nelia Peralta got an RBI double to bring the game back to a three-run lead.
Things got stressful for Auburn in the top of the fifth. With two outs, Maddie Penta walked a runner in, and Cagle was up to the plate. With a 3-2 count, Penta struck out the slugger to the roar of Auburn fans who made the long trip. All the momentum returned to Auburn as it added some insurance with Jessie Blaine picking up an important RBI single at the top of the sixth.
Auburn shut down any hopes of a comeback, as Penta shut down Clemson to keep the Tigers' season alive. Auburn's record improved to 43-18 while Clemson's fell to 48-10. Cagle picked up just her sixth loss of the season, while Penta gained her 27th victory.
Auburn could not celebrate this victory for long, as just under an hour later, it would play Clemson once again with the winner keeping its season alive and the loser starting the offseason earlier than wanted.
Game two brought the same two pitchers back to the circle as game one as it was a must-win game for both teams.
However, it was a very different story from the game played just a few hours before. Clemson scored early off a wild pitch to give it the lead and never trailed the rest of the game. Next inning, Clemson tacked on another run with an RBI single to bring the score to 2-0.
Penta struggled with control in the early part of game two, which led to her getting an early pull to bring in Shelby Lowe. Lowe had a fantastic performance in a win against Cal State Fullerton as she retired the first 15 batters of the game, but was facing added pressure against Clemson. She did well until the order came around and figured out her tendencies as she allowed two earned runs in 2.1 innings.
Makayla Packer got the team's first hit and came around to make it a 3-1 game. However, Cagle looked like the ACC Player of the Year that she was billed as with Auburn going scoreless after the third inning.
Auburn's season had once again ended in McWhorter Stadium, just as it did last year. Clemson advanced to its second Super Regional in a row, while Auburn was sent home.
The good news for Auburn softball is that most of the production will be returning, as it will be losing just four seniors in Lindsey Garcia, Aspyn Godwin, Carlee McCondichie and Maia Engelkes.. There will be high expectations once again for Mickey Dean's squad.
With the season over, Dean and Auburn will likely search in the transfer portal for some additions to take the program past Regionals to the Super Regionals.
Auburn's final record on the season was 43-19, its most wins in a season since 2017. While Clemson advances to play the No. 1 seed Oklahoma Sooners.
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TP is a junior from Montgomery, Ala., majoring in journalism. He started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.